Northwest String Summit brings bluegrass to Horning's Hideout July 17-20

by: COURTESY OF JP CUTLER MEDIA - The Northwest String Summit rocked Hornings Hideout in North Plains last year, and it returns July 17 to 20.Horning’s Hideout in North Plains hosts one of the most popular summer roots music fests around, the 13th annual Northwest String Summit.

The festival takes place Thursday through Sunday, July 17 through 20. It originated with a festival started by the Yonder Mountain String Band, a popular progressive bluegrass — or “newgrass” — group from Colorado. Ben Kaufmann, the band’s bassist, notes his group considers Portland area fans among its most loyal.

“We always felt like we had a pretty big following there,” he said, adding he loves Horning’s Hideout, a private park located 35 miles west of Portland. “For that size of a festival it’s pretty much the best location that I’ve ever seen. It’s got that natural amphitheater — it’s just absolutely designed for music.”

The band includes guitarist Adam Aijala, banjo player Dave Johnston and two touring members — fiddler Allie Kral and mandolinist Jacob Jolliff of Joy Kills Sorrow.

This year’s show also features the Sam Bush Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Danny Barnes, Wicked Messenger, Dave Johnston’s Banjo Strummit, Darol Anger, Dead Winter Carpenters, Grant Farm, Lil Smokies, Blackberry Bushes, Scott Law with Sam Grisman, Tyler Grant & Andy Thorn, Scott Law Bluegrass Dimension, Burle and the No Brainers, Burle with Travis Book & Anders Beck, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, Gipsy Moon, Pete Kartsounes and Sugarcane.

Yonder Mountain’s three original members (Jeff Austin recently left) will expand on Yonder Mountain’s improvisational mission.

“Our M.O. has always been to play a different show every night,” Kaufmann said.

The group has written a number of songs inspired by onstage jams, he added, noting the band likes to walk a razor’s edge of jamming. “It really encourages wide and active listening among the players.”by: COURTESY OF YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND - Yonder Mountain String Band

Out on loan

Another outfit performing at NWSS is The Student Loan, a Portland group featuring Chad Kimbler on mandolin, Mark Gerolami on banjo, Julio Appling on bass and Liz Chibucos on guitar and fiddle. Together for almost a decade, the group fuses elements of jazz, blues, rock and jam with traditional bluegrass. The group plays the Ninkasi Stage at 9:45 a.m. July 18, and the Furthur Stage at 1:15 a.m. later that night.

The Student Loan just released its fourth album, “Moonlit Toasters,” which includes the instant island-sounding classic “The Beer Grows Sticky in the Morning,” and has played in 17 different countries.

A lightning fast ax picker, Chibucos said the band can safely float into genres outside of bluegrass because no matter how far they drift, they’re still tethered to tradition.

“Our instrumentation automatically grounds us,” she said. “I think we’re about solid songwriting, but allow a lot improvisation within that.”

Seeing double

Catelyn Shook of the popular indie-folk band she founded with her sister, Laurie, The Shook Twins, says the siblings love the Northwest String Summit.

“The crowd at the String Summit is one of our favorites,” she said. “They just really kind of get it.”

Catelyn, her sister and their band will play the Ninkasi Stage at 1 a.m. Thursday night (technically Friday, July 18), and the Main Stage at 4:15 p.m. July 18. The group will play traditional music laced with hip hop and pop and other genres.

The women have a bit of a Lennon-McCartney songwriting relationship, Catelyn said.

“In general, I’m more the lyricist, and Laurie is more the music,” she noted. “We’re kind of born with this innate sense of fairness with each other. We have such a good balance, and it’s always been easy to work with each other.”

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